Robert Simson

Last updated

Robert Simson Robert Simson.jpg
Robert Simson
Memorial to Robert Simson in West Kilbride cemetery. The memorial plate reads "To Dr. Robert Simson of the University of Glasgow, the Restorer of Grecian Geometry; and by his works, the great promoter of its study in the Schools. A Native of this Parish." Robert Simson memorial.jpg
Memorial to Robert Simson in West Kilbride cemetery. The memorial plate reads "To Dr. Robert Simson of the University of Glasgow, the Restorer of Grecian Geometry; and by his works, the great promoter of its study in the Schools. A Native of this Parish."

Robert Simson (14 October 1687 – 1 October 1768) was a Scottish mathematician and professor of mathematics at the University of Glasgow. The Simson line is named after him. [1]

Contents

Life

The eldest son of John Simson of Kirktonhall, West Kilbride in Ayrshire, Robert Simson was intended for the Church, but the bent of his mind was towards mathematics. He was educated at the University of Glasgow and graduated M.A.

When the prospect opened of his succeeding to the mathematical chair at the University of Glasgow, Simson proceeded to London for further study. After a year in London, he returned to Glasgow and, in 1711, was appointed by the university to the professorship of mathematics, an office which he retained until 1761. [2]

He was succeeded by his pupil Rev Prof James Williamson FRSE (1725-1795). [3]

Works

Opera quaedam reliqua, 1776 Simson - Opere, 1776 - 4704659.tif
Opera quaedam reliqua, 1776

Simson's contributions to mathematical knowledge took the form of critical editions and commentaries on the works of the ancient geometers. [2] The first of his published writings is a paper in the Philosophical Transactions (1723, vol. xl. p. 330) on Euclid's Porisms .

Then followed Sectionum conicarum libri V. (Edinburgh, 1735), a second edition of which, with additions, appeared in 1750. The first three books of this treatise were translated into English and, several times, printed as The Elements of the Conic Sections . In 1749, was published Apollonii Pergaei locorum planorum libri II., a restoration of Apollonius's lost treatise, founded on the lemmas given in the seventh book of Pappus's Mathematical Collection. This work is given mention by William Paley in his Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity , published in 1804, a footnote in a later edition explaining who Simson was.

In 1756, appeared, both in Latin and in English, the first edition of his Euclid's Elements . This work, which contained only the first six and the eleventh and twelfth books, and to which, in its English version, he added the Data in 1762, was for long the standard text of Euclid in England.

After Simson's death, restorations of Apollonius's treatise De section determinata and of Euclid's treatise De Porismatibus were printed for private circulation in 1776, at the expense of Earl Stanhope, in a volume with the title Roberti Simson opera quaedam reliqua. The volume contains also dissertations on Logarithms and on the Limits of Quantities and Ratios, and a few problems illustrating the ancient geometrical analysis.

Notes

  1. Robert Simson. University of Glasgow (multi-tab page)
  2. 1 2 "Simson, Robert"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  3. https://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Glasgow_maths.html

Related Research Articles

Euclid Greek mathematician, inventor of axiomatic geometry

Euclid, sometimes called Euclid of Alexandria to distinguish him from Euclid of Megara, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "founder of geometry" or the "father of geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I. His Elements is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics, serving as the main textbook for teaching mathematics from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century. In the Elements, Euclid deduced the theorems of what is now called Euclidean geometry from a small set of axioms. Euclid also wrote works on perspective, conic sections, spherical geometry, number theory, and mathematical rigour.

Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia

Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia was an Italian mathematician, engineer, a surveyor and a bookkeeper from the then-Republic of Venice. He published many books, including the first Italian translations of Archimedes and Euclid, and an acclaimed compilation of mathematics. Tartaglia was the first to apply mathematics to the investigation of the paths of cannonballs, known as ballistics, in his Nova Scientia ; his work was later partially validated and partially superseded by Galileo's studies on falling bodies. He also published a treatise on retrieving sunken ships.

John Playfair

John Playfair FRSE, FRS was a Church of Scotland minister, remembered as a scientist and mathematician, and a professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He is best known for his book Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth (1802), which summarised the work of James Hutton. It was through this book that Hutton's principle of uniformitarianism, later taken up by Charles Lyell, first reached a wide audience. Playfair's textbook Elements of Geometry made a brief expression of Euclid's parallel postulate known now as Playfair's axiom.

Isaac Todhunter

Isaac Todhunter FRS, was an English mathematician who is best known today for the books he wrote on mathematics and its history.

Euclids <i>Elements</i> Mathematical treatise by Euclid

The Elements is a mathematical treatise consisting of 13 books attributed to the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt c. 300 BC. It is a collection of definitions, postulates, propositions, and mathematical proofs of the propositions. The books cover plane and solid Euclidean geometry, elementary number theory, and incommensurable lines. Elements is the oldest extant large-scale deductive treatment of mathematics. It has proven instrumental in the development of logic and modern science, and its logical rigor was not surpassed until the 19th century.

Thomas Heath (classicist) British civil servant, mathematician, classical scholar, historian of ancient Greek mathematics, translator, and mountaineer

Sir Thomas Little Heath was a British civil servant, mathematician, classical scholar, historian of ancient Greek mathematics, translator, and mountaineer. He was educated at Clifton College. Heath translated works of Euclid of Alexandria, Apollonius of Perga, Aristarchus of Samos, and Archimedes of Syracuse into English.

Apollonius of Perga Ancient Greek geometer and astronomer noted for his writings on conic sections

Apollonius of Perga was an Ancient Greek geometer and astronomer known for his work on conic sections. Beginning from the contributions of Euclid and Archimedes on the topic, he brought them to the state prior to the invention of analytic geometry. His definitions of the terms ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola are the ones in use today.

Theon of Alexandria was a Greek scholar and mathematician who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. He edited and arranged Euclid's Elements and wrote commentaries on works by Euclid and Ptolemy. His daughter Hypatia also won fame as a mathematician.

Matthew Stewart (mathematician)

Matthew Stewart FRS FRSE was a Scottish mathematician and minister of the Church of Scotland.

James Ivory, FRS FRSE KH LLD was a British mathematician. He was creator of Ivory's Theorem on confocal conic sections.

Pappus of Alexandria Ancient Greek mathematician

Pappus of Alexandria was one of the last great Greek mathematicians of antiquity, known for his Synagoge (Συναγωγή) or Collection, and for Pappus's hexagon theorem in projective geometry. Nothing is known of his life, other than what can be found in his own writings: that he had a son named Hermodorus, and was a teacher in Alexandria.

Thomas Taylor (neoplatonist)

Thomas Taylor was an English translator and Neoplatonist, the first to translate into English the complete works of Aristotle and of Plato, as well as the Orphic fragments.

A porism is a mathematical proposition or corollary. In particular, the term porism has been used to refer to a direct consequence of a proof, analogous to how a corollary refers to a direct consequence of a theorem. In modern usage, a porism is a relation that holds for an infinite range of values but only if a certain condition is assumed, for example, Steiner's porism. The term originates from three books of Euclid with porism, that have been lost. Note that a proposition may not have been proven, so a porism may not be a theorem, or for that matter, it may not be true.

Francesco Maurolico Sicilian mathematician and astronomer (1494–1575)

Francesco Maurolico was a mathematician and astronomer from Sicily. He made contributions to the fields of geometry, optics, conics, mechanics, music, and astronomy. He edited the works of classical authors including Archimedes, Apollonius, Autolycus, Theodosius and Serenus. He also composed his own unique treatises on mathematics and mathematical science.

Treatise Formal and systematic written discourse on some subject

A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concerned with investigating or exposing the principles of the subject and its conclusions. A monograph is a treatise on a specialized topic.

Hypsicles was an ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer known for authoring On Ascensions (Ἀναφορικός) and the Book XIV of Euclid's Elements. Hypsicles lived in Alexandria.

Heliodorus of Larissa was a Greek mathematician, and the author of a short treatise on optics which is still extant.

François Peyrard (1760–1822) was a French mathematician, educator and librarian. During the French Revolution, he was involved in the committee that reformed the French educational system. He was one of the founders of the École Polytechnique and its first librarian.

John Müller

John Müller was a German mathematician and engineer.

Basilides of Tyre was a mathematician, mentioned by Hypsicles in his prefatory letter of Euclid's Elements, Book XIV. Barnes and Brunschwig suggested that Basilides of Tyre and Basilides the Epicurean could be the same Basilides.

References

Further reading